Why Arsenal would be CRAZY to ignore the chance to sign Philippe Coutinho
By Rob Worthington
Over the last couple of days, the heat concerning the rumours of Philippe Coutinho joining Arsenal this summer has risen dramatically. The Brazilian, managed by super-agent Kia Joorabchian, is said by Football.London to be a ‘dream’ signing for Mikel Arteta. Meanwhile, the reliable @TransferChecker on Twitter has stated that ‘Arsenal retain an interest in bringing Philippe Coutinho to the club after failing with a loan move for him last Summer’ and that ‘if Barcelona really are keen on offloading him on the cheap, Arsenal will be involved.’ Music to my ears. The 27-year-old, on loan at Bayern Munich, enjoyed a stellar period in the Premier League during his time with Liverpool. Whilst playing for the Merseyside club he scored 54 goals across 5 seasons for the club which meant he averaged a goal every 3.72 games. Alongside this, the man contracted to Barcelona until 2023 contributed 37 Premier League assists during his time with the reds. It’d be difficult for any club in the league to find a player with a combination of outstanding technical ability and half a decade’s worth of Premier League experience. Why gamble on a player who is yet to pass the Premier League test when you could sign a footballing superstar who excelled during his time in England? It’s fair to suggest that Coutinho has struggled to recapture his form from his Liverpool days since he left England’s North-East for a dream move to sunny Western Spain. Nevertheless, it’s not as if he’s experienced disastrous form over the last few seasons. During two campaigns for La Blaugrana, he scored 13 goals and registered 7 assists, and at Bayern he’s made a respectable 14 goal contributions so far this season. Is this really the sign of a player in decline? No. This is the sign of a player who’s regularly asked to play out of position, a player adjusting to a new league and a player who is not particularly well-suited to either Barça or Bayern’s respective system’s.
The hysteria of disappointment has developed around Coutinho because fans of the giant clubs which he has played for over the last few years expect their attackers to be notching up unthinkable numbers in front of goal (i.e., Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski numbers). This just isn’t the sort of player Coutinho is.
Fortunately, for Arsenal, Coutinho is exactly the sort of player Arsenal are in desperate need of. My good friend Daniel Finton stated on this week’s Arsenal Cannon Podcast that he would love to see Arsenal bring in a player this summer who would contribute “10 goals and 10 assists” a season. Daniel, Coutinho is the man for that job.
The Brazilian’s 14 goal contributions for Bayern this year represent a better return that ANY of Arsenal’s current midfielders this year. During Coutinho’s best and final full season for Liverpool, he delivered 13 goals and 8 assists whilst he was on course to potentially better those numbers the following season with 7 goals and 6 assists attained before his €160 million transfer in January 2018. Not many players in the footballing world are capable of delivering such numbers in the Premier League. So, if Mikel Arteta can successfully bring back Coutinho’s Liverpool, it is without doubt that we’d have one hell of a player on our hands. Raul Sanllehi’s relationship with Coutinho’s agent, Kia Joorabchian, also makes this potential deal somewhat practical. Joorabchian is often seen sitting with Sanllehi at the Emirates Stadium and their relationship almost led to a transfer involving Layvin Kurzawa materialising in January. Due to Sanllehi’s strong relations with ‘super-agents’, we’ve managed to construct economically sensible deals for players such as Nicholas Pépé and David Luiz. It’s likely that he’d be able to operate in a similar fashion with regards to a potential move for Philippe Coutinho.
Due to the fact a large allocation of our budget this Summer will likely be heading towards Madrid in order to finance a move for Thomas Partey, if we really want Coutinho, we need to be business-savvy. There is a strong likelihood that we’ll have to initially sign Coutinho on loan as it is plain and simple that we do not have the funds to be spending £50+ million on more than one player whenever the Transfer window opens. No one does. A loan move could suit us though. It’s likely that Arsenal have already picked their ideal candidate to replace Mesut Özil, perhaps Kai Havertz or James Maddison. There’s no way we’d be able to structure a loan deal for these players nor any way in which we could place an adequately substantial bid to buy them. Thus, if we could get Coutinho on a one or two-year-loan while spending relatively little on him, by structuring an economically feasible deal, we could be in a strong enough financial position to land our dream signing for that position by the time Coutinho leaves the club. Or, if Coutinho is particularly successful with us, we could choose to buy him upon his loan expiry if we have the financial leverage to do so. It is clear that a low-risk loan move for such a talented player is a very enticing prospect. The idea becomes all the more enticing when you think about all that Coutinho could offer us on top of brilliant natural ability. Firstly, he’d provide us with some much-needed versatility in midfield. Our current midfielding crop are all pretty one-dimensional when it comes to positions in which they can fill. The same cannot be said for Coutinho. The Brazilian can operate on the wing, behind the striker or even in a deeper midfield role in front of a holding midfielder. At the same time, he’s a right-footed set piece specialist, something we’re currently lacking and his long-range shooting was pretty much second to none during his time in the Premier League. We lack a specialist in this area also. This is a man who would go a long way towards solving a number of our offensive options. It all seems a bit too good to be true.
Sadly for us Gooners, the reality of the matter is that such a signing may be a bit out of our reach. There is only so much Raul Sanllehi’s negotiating power and relations with agents can do, regrettably, if we don’t have the money, we don’t have the money. There is nothing that can be done about that. In addition, there is a genuine possibility that we may not be able to offer Coutinho any European football next year.
It seems Thomas Partey is willing to accept that, however, would Coutinho? Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a possibility that we’ll end up getting both players. Nonetheless, nothing is set in stone yet. If the club think we can do it, 100% go for it. Coutinho is a world-class player and it’d be fantastic to see him gracing the carpet on a weekly basis next season. Still, don’t be surprised if we opt to keep Mo Elneny and Henrikh Mkhitaryan instead of going all out for Coutinho and Partey!